PARIS – President Emmanuel Macron, trying to rid France of what authorities call a “parallel society” of radical Muslims thriving outside the values of the nation, laid out a series of measures on Friday in a proposed law that would disrupt the education, finances and other means of indoctrination of the vulnerable.
Macron has coined the term “separatism” to describe the underworld that thrives in some neighborhoods around France where Muslims with a radical vision of their religion take control of the local population to inculcate their beliefs.
Macron stressed in a speech that stigmatizing French Muslims would be falling into a “trap” laid by radicals. He blamed France itself for organizing the “ghettoization” of a population that could easily fall prey to the preaching of those whose goal is to substitute their laws for those of the nation, and reiterated that secularism is the “cement” of France.
He spoke in Les Mureaux, a working-class town west of Paris, after meeting with the mayor, Francois Garay, who is largely credited with building projects that help bring the Muslim population into the mainstream. He said that 70 people from the region of Les Yvelines, where the town is located, traveled to Syria and Iraq.
Macron's gave his speech while a trial is underway in Paris over the deadly January 2015 attacks on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket by French-born Islamic extremists. Last week, a man from Pakistan stabbed two people near Charlie Hebdo’s former offices in anger over its publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Macron noted both cases.
The president laid out a five-point plan aimed at upending the world that lets those who promote a radical brand of Islam thrive, notably via associations or home schools that steep members and students in radical ideology.
France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe with up to 5 million members, and Islam is the country's No. 2 religion.
The proposed bill, which would go to parliament early next year, would require all children from the age of 3 to attend French schools, and allow distance learning only for medical reasons. Associations, which receive state funding, would be made accountable for their spending, their sometimes invisible leaders and be forced to reimburse misused funds.